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Pedro Serralles, Founded Pan American Bank of Miami

September 24, 1985 GMT

MIAMI (AP) _ A funeral Mass was said Tuesday for Pedro Juan Serralles, a former Puerto Rican legislator who founded the Pan American Bank, billed the first bank in Miami where Spanish was spoken.

Serralles, 85, who died Sunday, was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, into a politically powerful rum-making and sugar-planting family that owned the island’s the largest privately held cane plantation.

He was educated in the United States and received a degree in industrial engineering from Pennsylvania State College.

Serralles returned home to learn the family business, became interested in politics and was elected as a senator in the Puerto Rican legislature, where he served until 1940.

During World War II Serrales moved to Miami, where despite his position and ownership of eight Puerto Rican banks, he had difficulties, said Gene McNally, his son-in-law.

″There was one problem when he got to Miami,″ said McNally. ″He couldn’t cash a check; no one spoke Spanish here back then.

″A friend told him the only way to get a check cashed was to start his own bank. So he did.″

The Pan American Bank of Miami was founded in 1945 and billed itself as ″the first Spanish-speaking bank in Miami.″